Access Resident 2019 - 2019

Movers and Shakers

Access Resident 2019 – 2019
Meet the Eyebeam Access Residents

Movers and Shakers in conversation with open call jury member Kenyatta Cheese

Learn more about the Open Call: Access.

Movers and Shakers execute direct action and advocacy campaigns for marginalized communities using virtual reality, augmented reality, and the creative arts. Their aim is to highlight and provide solutions to issues that affect marginalized communities. During their Eyebeam residency, the coalition will work on an interactive anthology of poems, illustrations, and augmented reality (AR) animations entitled ​Columbus the Hero? with a focus on telling the story of Christopher Columbus from the oppressed perspective. Each piece of content will come to life with their ‘Movers and Shakers AR’ app. Glenn Cantave and Idris Brewster spoke with Eyebeam alum, Kenyatta Cheese, Co-creator, Co-founder of Know Your Meme and Everybody at Once.

Kenyatta Cheese: So, in terms of the moving and shaking that you’ll be doing at Eyebeam, what do you think the next year or so looks like for you?

Glenn Cantave: So there are a few projects that we’re looking to roll out. One is the augmented reality book on the true story of Christopher Columbus. In a perfect world, we’d like to get it into Columbus Circle so that anyone can use their smartphones and see the truth about who this man really was.

The problem that we’re addressing is that—whether it’s the schools or public spaces, it’s mostly white men that have had the mic for centuries. Representation truly matters. We’re taught from a very young age that we’re nobody because our history has been altered and erased in a lot of different ways. The value of using augmented reality in public spaces is that we can put up a lot of digital statues for cheap, we don’t need permission to do so, and the statues can be fundraising mechanisms for good.

New York City has 1.1 million students in their public schools, but there are 940,000 students of color. The problem is that the books are not about them. As far as the public spaces are concerned, there are 155 statues of men. There are six statues of women. It’s absurd. That’s just got to change.

KC: It’s funny—whether you talk about textbooks or statues in public spaces—these are both things that we take for granted, right? People don’t necessarily think about the textbooks they learn from as being political.

Idris Brewster: We’re trying to disrupt a lot of perspectives and traditional narratives.People need to shift the way they take things in and look at the world around them.

GC: The ultimate goal of this content is to make it accessible for all, to shift consciousness so we are electing leaders that can create systems and processes that are for the benefit of the people.

KC: That makes me think about the idea of access. There’s an interesting thing here in terms of the access on a policy level. These stories aren’t in textbooks that sit in schools now because the folks who do have access, who have the funds and who have the time to organize, are the folks who have already benefited from—from supremacy. Because they have the access that they have, they’re able to affect change in that way.

I think that makes your work really interesting because there’s something very asymmetrical about it, right? You don’t necessarily have access as they do, but you have the technology and you have the knowledge. And you’re able to apply and you’re able to essentially get in there on a different level in order to add commentary, add more context for that work. Does it resonate?

GC: It’s a matter of democratizing access to narratives and resources. Whether it’s word of mouth, whether it’s AR, whether it’s stickers, whether it’s a little hand-written note, whatever gets the message across, is the most important part.